Foraging Focus - Wild Garlic
Common names: wild garlic, ramson, buckram, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek, bear’s garlic
Scientific name: Allium ursinum
Flowering season: March to June
Habitat: woodland, hedgerows
Wild Garlic season typically begins in March and runs all the way to June. Wild Garlic is the by far the most popular wild food, given its ease of identification, abundance and versatility. Often an indicator of ancient woodland, when you are out exploring the presence of Wild Garlic can often be a sign of a rare habitat. In cooking, wild garlic can often lose its flavour if overcooked and suits recipes which enhance its flavour making it an ideal ingredient in oils and sauces.
Found in Europe, Asia and North America; most often located in deciduous woodland near a moist verge favouring acidic soil. Wild Garlic can also be found in shaded damp hedgerows
Wild Garlic is a medium sized bulbous perennial that has a distinct garlicky smell that permeates woodland in spring.
Leaves: long, spear-like with smooth edges. They grow from the plant base and the bulb and have a strong garlic scent.
Flowers: each plant has one single flower head this sit on top of a single leafless stalk. Around 25 flowers form each rounded flower cluster are small, white, with six petals.
Seed: wild garlic reproduces through seeds, aerial bulblets and bulbs.
Could be confused with: lily-of-the-valley when not flowering, wild garlic leaves differ from lily-of-the-valley leaves in so much as they grow from the base of the plant and whereas lily-of-the-valley leaves have two or three leaves on its stem. When flowering they are easier to distinguish as lily-of-the-valley flowers are white and bell shaped. Be sure to fully identify wild garlic before foraging as lily of the valley is poisonous.
When foraging be sure to only pick from areas where there is a plentiful supply, by only picking a small amount you will be able to avoid damaging any wildlife habitat and will leave enough for other foragers. Never pick protected species or cause permanent damage. Britain’s wild plants are all protected, which makes it illegal to dig up or remove a plant.
Roots and bulb: best harvested when the plant is not in leaf from June-January. Use the bulb as regular garlic although be aware that it is somewhat fibrous. The roots can be dried and powdered to be used as a seasoning. The bulbs also pickle well.
Stem/leaves (early Spring): raw, to flavour oil, as a wrap, for pesto and sauces
Flower bud (Feb/March): raw, tempura, pickled
Flower (March/April): raw, salads, as a garnish
Seeds (May/June): salads, garnish, pickled
Bulb (July/March): as regular garlic